Members of Sac State's baseball team honored

8:39 PM, May 22, 2012   |    comments
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MESA, AZ - Three members of Sacramento State's basesall team were honored by the Western Athletic Conference on Tuesday night.

Andrew Ayers was named the Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year, Rhys Hoskins earned freshman of the year honors and Sacramento State baseball head coach Reggie Christiansen was voted coach of the year as the Hornets took three of the WAC's four individual awards, the conference announced at its annual awards banquet.

In addition to the three individual award winners, the Hornets had three players named first team all-WAC and three more earned second team all-league honors.

Ayers, a junior from Eureka, Calif. (St. Bernard's HS), batted .427 in conference play and led the WAC with 32 hits, 18 RBIs and a .627 slugging percentage in 18 league games. He was second in the WAC with seven doubles in conference contests. Overall on the season, Ayers hit .335 with 32 runs, 15 doubles, a triple and three home runs.

The junior was among the league's best at the plate, but his defensive prowess proved to be just as valuable. He started 53 of a possible 55 games, with 43 starts at second base, six at shortstop, three in left field and one in right. Despite moving around the diamond and primarily playing at middle infield, Ayers made only three errors all season despite tying for the team lead with 147 assists. He currently has a .988 fielding percentage.

Ayers is the second Hornet to earn a WAC Player of the Year award. Mike Eby was named WAC Western Division Player of the Year in 1995.

Hoskins, a native of Sacramento (Jesuit HS), hit .275 during WAC play with three doubles, four home runs and 15 RBIs. He posted 17 runs and drew nine walks. Overall, the freshman is second in the WAC with a .355 batting average. Among conference leaders, he also ranks second in slugging (.579), third in both RBIs (49) and home runs (10), and eighth in on-base percentage (.416). Hoskins had the eighth longest hitting streak in school history (16) earlier this season and hit a pair of grand slams.

Hoskins is the first player in school history to earn WAC Freshman of the Year honors.

Christiansen, in his second season at the helm of the Sacramento State baseball program, was honored as the WAC Coach of the Year for the first time in his career. Christiansen led Sacramento State to its first-ever regular season WAC title with an 11-7 league record. The defensive-minded manager had the Hornets ranked in the NCAA's top-10 for fielding percentage all season, including four weeks at No. 1.

After finishing with six league wins a season ago, Christiansen and the Hornets joined Cornell as the only two teams in the nation to go from worst to first in their respective conference standings this year. Fielding a team that used only two seniors in the regular starting lineup, Christiansen could lead the Hornets (29-26) to their first 30-win season since 2003 and their first NCAA Regional appearance since moving to Div. I in 1990.

Christiansen is the first coach in school history to earn WAC Coach of the Year honors.

Ayers was a first team all-conference selection in addition to his MVP status. Hoskins was named second team all-WAC.

Joining Ayers on the first team were senior catcher Derrick Chung and sophomore outfielder Justin Higley. Hoskins was accompanied on the second team by senior designated hitter/first baseman Trevor Paine and sophomore starting pitcher Dallas Chadwick.

Chung is third in the conference with a .346 batting average and hit a team-high .429 in conference games. He was recently named one of 12 semifinalists for the Johnny Bench Award, a prestigious honor annually given to the NCAA's best catcher. Higley hit .292 in league play with three home runs and a WAC-best three triples.

Paine hit .340 in conference games - and .301 overall - with three home runs in his senior season after missing most of last year with a wrist injury. The Rocklin, Calif., native is one of three Jesuit HS grads (Hoskins and Higley) to earn all-WAC honors for the Hornets.

Chadwick was impressive in conference play this season, posting a 3.06 ERA in six appearances, including five starts. The Redding, Calif., native recorded 32 strikeouts compared to 10 walks with 34 hits allowed in 35.1 innings.

The WAC postseason awards and all-conference teams are voted on by the league's seven coaches. Statisitics in WAC games are given priority in voting. The only individual award the Hornets did not claim was pitcher of the year, which went to Nevada sophomore Bradey Shipley.

The Hornets begin their bid for a WAC Tournament championship at 3 p.m. on Thursday at Hohokam Park in Mesa, Ariz. As the No. 2 seed in the tournament, the team has a bye in the first round on Wednesday.



Sacramento State Univeristy Athletics & News10/KXTV

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